Nothing
The Great Dismal


4.5
superb

Review

by Jesper L. CONTRIBUTOR (46 Reviews)
October 30th, 2020 | 374 replies


Release Date: 10/30/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An unexpected shoegaze masterpiece

Let’s be real: it’s quite rare for a shoegaze album to truly overwhelm. Sure, the occasional abrasively fuzzy wall-of-sound approach may be somewhat surprising for a genre rooted in delicate dreaminess, but hey, didn’t My Bloody Valentine perfect this exact style some thirty years ago? As such, it is rather unexpected and impressive how The Great Dismal, Nothing’s fourth studio album, manages to tap into this sensation of breathtaking beauty, relying both on expectations and contextualisation as well as its own, undeniable strengths to thrive.

Where the band’s 2018 album Dance on the Blacktop faltered due to paper thin production and sporadically uninspired songwriting, present-day Nothing appear to feel entirely reinvigorated. The Great Dismal utilises new member Doyle Martin (of Cloakroom fame) to its full advantage, making for some of the most atmospheric and intense music the band have ever put out. ‘A Fabricated Life’ opens the album on an expansive, gentle highlight. The song ebbs and flows as it adds and subtracts elements from its framework of a slow, muted guitar line and vocalist Dominic Palermo’s ambiguous whispers of “Trust / Trust beyond faith / Giving in / Living in / Thoughts”. Expertly contrasting this the very next moment, lead single ‘Say Less’ showcases Nothing at their most immediate. The track, unlike some of the band’s previous work, feels entirely rounded out and is full of palpable energy. Moreover, it provides Will Yip’s production the perfect opportunity to shine. Every instrument sounds incredibly crisp; the bridge’s distorted guitars pop the way they should and the drums consistently propel the song as well as the entire record forward. Accentuated by the lyrical content focusing on sensations of being surrounded by numbing sounds, the chorus claustrophobically repeating “It’s on and on and on” solidifies ‘Say Less’ as one of Nothing’s most fully realised songs.

Thankfully, the album manages to maintain this level of quality and endearing contrasts all throughout. Every song manages to display The Great Dismal’s ability to overwhelm; ‘Catch a Fade’, for example, introduces itself as a track that could have fit on the band’s previous two albums, before exploding into a different beast altogether in its second half. Layering an infectious, clean riff with Nothing’s typical distortion and a call-and-response chorus, the fuzzy guitar solo is merely the cherry on top. Yet, the album’s very best section finds itself in the huge one-two punch of ‘In Blueberry Memories’ and ‘Blue Mecca’. The former is a gorgeous, dynamic number rooted in abrasive shoegaze. Driven by pounding drums, guitars intertwine, expand and embrace throughout the track, delicately obscuring their beginnings and endings. ‘Blue Mecca’, on the other hand, borders on post-metal with its hauntingly layered vocals and crushing riffs. Lyrically, this contrast is emphasised to an even greater extent: ‘In Blueberry Memories’ is somewhat deceptively optimistic, indicating the prominence of paradise in one’s memories. This sense of bliss is fully crushed by its counterparts’ apocalypticism: “In killing fields / Children play / Castaways / Dig their own graves”.

Even though nothing Nothing does on The Great Dismal is inherently unique or novel, the band manages to implement tried-and-true shoegaze techniques in highly refreshing manners. As much as the record thrives off these very strengths, it is undoubtedly elevated by its position in the band’s discography. Instead of continuing the gradual degradation, The Great Dismal not only encompasses some of the very best music Nothing have put out, but some of the very best music of the year. Whether it’s the frantic explosion of sound in ‘Famine Asylum’s bridge or ‘Ask the Rust’ ending the record on an eerily psychedelic outro, every moment twists and turns with surprising elements that enhance the album’s overwhelmingly beautiful nature.



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user ratings (225)
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
October 30th 2020


1928 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

amazing album

listen here (or on spotify): https://nothing.bandcamp.com/album/the-great-dismal

Digging: Palm Reader - Sleepless

dedex
Contributing Reviewer
October 30th 2020


5876 Comments


"Even though nothing Nothing does" lol nice

Very good rev bro! I've never listened to this band but this sounds SUPER promising

Digging: Big Black - Atomizer

hel9000
Contributing Reviewer
October 30th 2020


853 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice write up. These guys kinda lost me after their debut but I’m excited to give this a listen.

Digging: Jesu - Terminus

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
October 30th 2020


1928 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

hehe i couldn't resist

thanks guys! their debut was definitely my fav, but this tops that :]

ignorethefashion
October 30th 2020


119 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Nice Review. Blue Mecca is my initial standout. It captures the spirit of peak era Pink Floyd but delivers it in a modern way. Just gorgeous.

nightbringer
October 30th 2020


1578 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Only had a casual, not-super-paying-attention run through of this but what I was hearing sounded fantastic. Looking forward to a more careful spin.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
October 30th 2020


22315 Comments


Oooh new one! Last one left me conflicted, let's see if this one wins me.

Great rev!

Digging: King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard - K.G.

cold
October 30th 2020


5801 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

AOTY, straight the fuck up. 5's all goddamn day

jemaiseyeti
October 30th 2020


104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Such a great album, very impressed

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 30th 2020


36326 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I haven't loved anything they've done since the debut, but these guys are always half decent no matter what. Excited to check this out, nice work on the review.

Digging: Seahaven - Halo of Hurt

SandwichBubble
October 30th 2020


12360 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I'm skeptical, but I'll try it out.

Digging: Dirt - Never Mind Dirt - Here's the Bollocks

DarthHideous1
October 30th 2020


257 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is their best stuff, so good

dholms
October 30th 2020


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album is spectacular.

I rarely read a critique word for word, but the excellence of this album compelled me to read this equally excellent review.

'...gorgeous, dynamic,...abrasive...'

Yes this is the definition of shoegaze.

'...pounding drums, guitars intertwine,...delicately obscuring their beginnings and endings...borders on post-metal with its hauntingly layered vocals and crushing riffs.'



Yes, yes, yes to all.

Well done.

bigguytoo9
October 30th 2020


885 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Say All and April Ha Ha are my faves.

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
October 30th 2020


1928 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

thanks guys! and that's so nice of you dholms :]

timing of this record is impeccable as well, perfect for the gloomy weather

bloc
October 30th 2020


64229 Comments


I'm on track 2 and it's killin but why the hell did they start the album off with that boring ass 6 minute track

Digging: DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ - Makin' Magick

JayEnder
October 30th 2020


8765 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

A Fabricated Life is amazing tho.



I was admittedly worried for this album after Bernie Sanders, but damn. This has no right to be as spectacular as it is after the misstep that was DotB. Might even put this above GoE in time...

Digging: Black Wing - No Moon

JayEnder
October 30th 2020


8765 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

catch a fade yeeeeah

loveisamixtape
October 30th 2020


9472 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

without a doubt the best since GOE

kevbogz
October 30th 2020


2644 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wow blessed with a Jesp AND Dewi review in the same day.



2020 has been a load of dookie but holy moley has it been stacked with good tunes

Digging: Provoker - Collection No. 1



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